Morgan Walking On The Moon without a space suit
Yesterday Morgan had to drive Peg down to Shannon for her flight back home. James and I are sorry to see her go, she was a great traveling companion, took to Ireland like a duck to water and fit right in to our traveling ways. Now that she’s experienced it Morgan will likely find it easier to entice her over again. Safe journey Peg, Wishing you the best, Ádh mór agus gach dea-ghuí.
I was busy typing up the previous day’s experiences and James was falling asleep reading a book when Morgan returned. After about an hour he asked us if we felt like going out on a walk. We needed some energizing and thought that sounded good. There’s an area of The Burren north of us that nearly defies description. The entire Burren is a thick crust of ancient limestone. It dominates this whole section of the coast and is quite dramatic, full of broken sections, stacked walls, huge boulders with little gullies carving through it here and there. There are small shrubs and grassy sections hanging onto a thin topsoil, yet there’s one area to the North that we can see from here that looks as if it has snow or frost on it. In this large area the topsoil has been stripped away, the rock laid barren and forbidding and it has an otherworldly quality. High up on the top of a vast field of broken and fractured limestone sits the remains of an old ring fort. It’s been dated to around 500 B.C. At that time the soil was intact and it supported a small population. Where the soil went and how it disappeared I do not know, but walking across the landscape now it’s hard to imagine how it could have ever been any different.
We drove up to the trail head following directions that Dave Lewicki gave to Morgan, down a little lane, up an even smaller one to where it dead ended next to a farm house. The day was getting warm, the fog beginning to burn off and I realized I wore pants that were too heavy for the walk. Oh well, there’s nothing for it but to keep going. Over a stone stile and on to a grassy path that appears to be heading toward the base of a large hill that looks frosty. As we get closer and the stacked walls closer we are gazing at what I could easily mistake for a Moonscape. It’s the same color as a full moon, dirty bone white and utterly inhospitable. It’s forbidding yet strangely attractive. We followed a wall to a spot where we could hop it and headed up hill. This fractured landscape that Dante could have used in one of his levels of Hell is criss-crossed with long chest high walls of limestone. I’ll post photos of them in the website gallery so you can see how they’re constructed. The three of us can only guess as to their purpose. We doubt that they’re as old as the ring fort, some research is in order, but why they’re here and what they’re protecting is anyone’s guess. If there were grassy fields with livestock grazing within them that would make sense, but they’re only walling off fields of fractured rock that only mountain goats can cross easily. There’s areas of scat we can see but it’s not cow pies, it looks more like goat or sheep, but again we don’t see any animals in evidence. We cross some small areas of grass and gorse with pretty little wild flowers, but it’s few and far between, certainly not enough to support any livestock.
My cotton canvas pants are feeling like they’re heavy wool so I roll up the pant legs to my knees in an attempt at some ventilation. The sun is beating down on us as we continue up, crossing a perpendicular wall, hopping on larger rocks while avoiding sections of scree and ankle breaking crevices. I’m walking with as much intention as I can muster, visualizing a broken ankle or leg to keep me focused so I won’t end up with one. We stop to catch our breath and sip some water as we get swallowed up into this bizarre landscape, little human creatures inserting themselves into this maze of rock and rubble. We slowly make our way up and just as it seems that we’ll never find the top and the ring fort, there on the other side of yet another wall, it is. It’s actually rather impressive, some good sized sections of it still intact with a commanding view of Galway Bay to the North and North East and the Clare coast and Fanore to the South with a huge wall of limestone to the direct East. The people that put this together had to be tough. Morgan says that he’d heard that what modern man is calling a fort was actually a place that livestock could be collected and guarded. Clans would raid one another’s stock. Even humans with bow and arrows and imagining the “fort” intact it doesn’t impress me as the remains of a true fortress. We scurried around the perimeter of it and climbed a rock field above it for a different view, running into tiny pockets of vegetation and wild flowers in this wasteland, a seeming miracle in such a place. After a bit of time we headed back down the mountain, picking a diagonal through a fractured landscape we didn’t cross coming up that was even more forbidding. There were limestone flakes sticking out presenting edges that could easily slice you open if you were careless enough to fall on one. We made it safely down to the path and made our way back to the car. We had seen these odd creatures that looked like a cross between a goat a sheep and or alpaca. It was pure white freshly sheared of its wool, had more massive shoulders and thick powerful front legs and had ears that can only be described as rabbit like. We joked that there must be some gigantic hares in the Burren that were breeding with sheep. We’ve described them to some local people but no one has been able to enlighten us. We kept going down the path and saw our car, grateful for the experience and happy to be back down.